By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – Clinton overcame a miserable shooting performance in the second quarter to defeat Tupelo 50-40 on Monday night in the first round of the MHSAA North Mississippi Class 6A Girls tournament.
The Lady Arrows were 0 for 11 in the second quarter, but couldn’t miss in the third quarter.
Harper Newell, who scored a game-high 20 points, led Clinton’s scoring surge with nine points in the third as the Arrows turned a 19-17 Tupelo lead into a 33-25 lead for the home team.
“I didn’t realize we hadn’t made a basket in the second quarter,” Clinton coach Felicia Lofton-Burton said. “We’ve had trouble with our scoring consistency. Our defense has kept us going.”
Clinton (20-10) advances to Friday’s North state semifinals.
Tupelo (20-11), whose season ended, struggled from the free throw line in the second half, hitting just 4 of 14 attempts. The Lady Wave was 9 of 23 in the game.
“It came down to free throws,” Tupelo coach Matt Justice said. “A lot were front ends of 1-and-1s. We had more missed scoring opportunities on top of that.
“Clinton played hard on defense. It was physical. We’ve got to learn to play physical basketball. It was another good lesson for our girls.”
Tupelo’s lone senior, guard Casey Marshall, scored 11 in her final game to lead the Wave.
The start of the game was delayed 40 minutes because the referees didn’t know the starting time had been moved up from 7 to 6 p.m.
Tupelo trailed 17-13 after the first quarter, but rallied to take a 19-17 halftime lead. The Wave scored just six points in the second quarter – five from reserve Asia Partlow, who connected on two field goals and a free throw.
The Lady Wave committed 24 turnovers – 12 in each half.
“It’s hard to win on the road in the playoffs,” said Justice, whose club lost last season at Jackson Murrah in the first round. “Our girls played hard. We were ready and the effort was there.”